A Run on a Different Sort of Bank

Food banks are making do with kumquats, pomegranates and artichokes.

As the economy turns sour, there's no need to worry that food for the poor will too. That's because the country's food banks can't keep any on their shelves. A combination of factors have led to fewer food donations while a growing number of people are need of assistance, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Food services for the poor "are scrambling to make up for a loss of government provided surplus items as commodity prices have soared. Surpluses have dropped as some commodities, like corn, are being turned into alternative fuels and others are going overseas as the weak dollar makes U.S. exports more palatable to other countries."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture buys surplus food in order to help farmers by maintaining demand for their crops. But high prices have decreased the need for the government to step in. That's good for farmers, but government money given to food banks is now buying less food than in past years.

"Demand for food-bank assistance is climbing rapidly," says Chris ...

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January/February
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